Protecting our woodlands: a perspective from Bulgaria
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Protecting our woodlands: a perspective from Bulgaria

So what lessons to draw? That deer numbers have to be significantly reduced if we are ever to restore our environment and its wildlife in Scotland, is hardly a revelation. But the destination – where rich, native forests are compatible with human needs and where people have a real connection with nature – should surely be one worth striving for.

A great example of partnership working, within and beyond the EU
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A great example of partnership working, within and beyond the EU

I found it particularly inspiring that the Devetaki Plateau Association, as a small collective, could reach beyond its own borders and the EU to find support for its mission in the Swiss & American agencies discussed earlier. Although we can hardly compare the wealth of Scotland to that of Bulgaria, I can’t help but wonder whether the challenges we could all face from Brexit may see us reach out to partners beyond our own conservation neighbourhood.

BULGARIA : България : 2017
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BULGARIA : България : 2017

Throughout the week, a theme emerged in the use of heritage in the projection, and reformation, of Bulgarian identity. Having only recently emerged from a long period of Soviet Russian domination and even more recently having joined the European Union, there seemed to be a desire to present Bulgaria as a modern European nation that had a shared history with the rest of Europe.

Bulgaria Nature and Biodiversity 2015
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Bulgaria Nature and Biodiversity 2015

The Bulgarian NET study visit was hosted by the Devetaki Plateau Association with the help of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. The objective was to develop our understanding of biodiversity, designated sites, state environmental policies, environmental education and habitat/species management.

Bulgaria Exchange: Eileen Cook
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Bulgaria Exchange: Eileen Cook

A special mention must be given to the Troyan Museum of Crafts. This is an excellent museum at all levels. Situated in a building with a long history of its own, it details the history of the folk crafts of the region including textiles, pottery, metalwork and woodturning.

The arrangement of the exhibits is chronological and the information detailed and accessible to all age groups. All the exhibits have detailed information about their place in both the geography and history of the region and give a good understanding of the development of land use in the region. Visitors can choose the level of detail they wish to achieve with a selection of ‘apps’ being available to those who wish to see more about how people actually worked in the sector. This facility is particularly attractive for school groups. I would love to be able to take my students to visit, to demonstrate what can be done. The National Exhibition of crafts in Oreshak provided a good complementary visit.

A Bulgarian Journey
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A Bulgarian Journey

As we entered, a choir struck up in the gallery and the sonorous tones of eastern sacred music filled the colossal space within. A service was on-going. There are no pews in Orthodox churches, the congregation standing or sitting along the wall benches. The air was thick with incense and the priest chanted as the choir sang. This was all very alien to me! The whole atmosphere took on a strangely hypnotic feel which was quite, in my opinion, unsettling. I noticed people; heads bowed and in tears, moved utterly in the midst of devotion to their faith and God. Two women in particular caught my attention; they were dressed very soberly and wore traditional headscarves. They sat on wall benches and rocked back and forwards, eyes closed in what appeared to be a sort of devotional trance. It all began to feel a bit oppressive and I went back out into the air and light. Faith and I have never been easy bedfellows

Bulgaria Project NET 2015 – Cultural and Historical Heritage Exchange – Elena Trimarchi
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Bulgaria Project NET 2015 – Cultural and Historical Heritage Exchange – Elena Trimarchi

In July 2015, I took part in the NET funded Cultural and Historical Heritage Exchange in Bulgaria. Having never been so far East previously, I was really looking forward to this trip to discover a new culture and to get inspiration in my own work in heritage and culture. I arrived at the airport to […]

Bulgaria 11/07-19/07/2015 Cultural & Historical Exchange Visit
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Bulgaria 11/07-19/07/2015 Cultural & Historical Exchange Visit

In July I took part in a structured study visit to Bulgaria visiting a wide range of cultural sites covering the full spectrum of cultural heritage: historic buildings and towns; archaeological sites; museums; traditional crafts and skills; and intangible heritage and traditions. My own profession is in art with an interest in architecture ancient and […]

Managing our Natural and Cultural Assets.  Course in Bulgaria. Dr Joe Murray
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Managing our Natural and Cultural Assets. Course in Bulgaria. Dr Joe Murray

A report of a NET visit to Bulgaria 2015 Introduction EARLY SATURDAY MORNING 11 July I set off to meet seven other people from similar professional backgrounds to my own, the arts, culture and heritage. All of us, in one way or another, involved in providing interpretation and learning for those who visit or interact […]

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